If you struggle with weight loss, you might feel envious towards those who can eat anything they want without gaining any weight. It’s hardly fair, so how and why does this happen? This likely has everything to do with an individual’s metabolism. The metabolism is how fast—or slow—the body burns calories. So, the faster the metabolism, the more calories are burned. The slower the metabolism, the less calories are burned. But, what determines what type of metabolism you get?
What role does the metabolism play in weight loss? Is there a way to speed up your metabolism—or are you stuck with it for the rest of your life?
These are common questions asked by aspiring athletes and those who struggle with losing weight.
The good news is you CAN help speed up your metabolism, but we’re afraid that you are going to have to do a lot more than simply taking a pill or eating different foods.
Read on to learn more about the science behind the human metabolism, how it plays a role in weight loss, and what you can do to help turbocharge your metabolism to accelerate weight loss and fat burn.
What is the Metabolism?
Before we get into how the metabolism plays a role in weight loss, let’s first take a look at the science behind the metabolism, including what it is and how it works.
The human metabolism or metabolic rate is defined as a series of chemical reactions that create and break down compounds to provide the body with sufficient energy. Simply put, metabolism is the rate at which your body uses energy and burns calories.
The metabolism can be broken down into two main categories: catabolism, the breakdown of molecules for energy consumption, and anabolism, the synthesis of compounds required by cells.
Interestingly, the body burns calories in different ways. Some examples include the following:
- The energy required for your body to function
- The energy required for your body to stay at rest (basal metabolic rate [BMR])
- Engaging in daily activities
- Regular exercise
As you can clearly see, you have the power to control the speed of your metabolism, simply by engaging in daily activities, exercise, and also consuming proper nutrition.
The energy required by your body to function or stay at rest (basal metabolism, resting metabolic rate, or BMR) are often related to genetics. Furthermore, basal metabolism is also related to non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is the energy expenditure for day-to-day activities that fall between sleeping and exercising.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis relates to activities, such as walking, typing, doing simple tasks, yard work or simply moving about your day. These activities all play a role in your overall metabolic rate.
So, yes, part of how your individual metabolism works greatly depends on the genes you inherit from your parents. Some people are lucky enough to inherit genes that give them a faster metabolism.This is why some people can eat all the junk food they want without gaining an ounce. Those who aren’t as lucky and inherit a slower metabolism will likely gain weight much easier or struggle to lose weight.
What Causes a Slow Metabolism?
Other than genetics, one of the most common causes of a slow metabolism or low metabolic rate is an underactive thyroid, or Hypothyroidism. than others.
The Thyroid gland produces the Thyroid hormone, which is essential for maintaining healthy bodily functions. In fact, the thyroid is used by almost every organ in the body! However, a thyroid hormone deficiency can cause many health issues, including a slow metabolism. Hypothyroidism can also cause other symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, weakness, constipation, cognitive interruptions, lower appetite, joint pain and even interruptions in the menstrual cycle.
How Proper Nutrition Can Help Boost Metabolism
Furthermore, studies show that there is a link between the metabolism and nutrition. The availability lack thereof—of sufficient nutrition and nutrients can impact the metabolic rate and even the resting metabolic rate efficiency. Feeding the body a sufficient supply of quality nutrients will supply the body with good energy in the form of calories, which is necessary for the body to function.
Without proper nutrition, the body cannot properly synthesize, nor can it keep up with repairing body tissue and cells, which can make you feel blah.
The metabolism relies on receiving nutrients to break down in order to process and produce energy for the body. This energy is then used by the body to create new proteins and nucleic acids.
For example, a proper diet that includes metabolism-boosting foods should include a healthy, nutritious blend of carbohydrates, lipids (healthy fats), protein, vitamins, minerals and water.
Let’s take a deeper look at each source…
Carbohydrates and Metabolism
But, wait a minute… aren’t carbs bad for you and make you gain weight?
Technically, yes—but it’s moderation and eating the right carbs that are key. Remember, carbohydrates provide the body with the energy that it needs to complete the synthesis process. However, there are different types of carbs that aren’t as healthy as others. Carbohydrates come in three different forms:
- Starch – Essential energy source
- Sugar (glucose) – Essential for building and repairing body tissue for daily activities
- Fiber – Important for digestive health and overall bodily functions
Carbohydrates make up approximately half of the typical daily American diet. The most common sources of carbohydrates include the following:
- White or wheat bread
Protein and Metabolism
Most of us know that protein plays an essential role in the body. It helps blood and oxygen circulation, build and repair cells, body tissue, and even muscle. In fact, proteins are part of every single cell in the body. Proteins are also important for energy production.
The essential amino acids include:
Furthermore, proteins contain amino acids. Amino acids are known as the “building blocks” of proteins. They also play an important role in the protein synthesis process. This helps boost metabolism, muscle growth development, and lean body mass.
Amino acids also help provide the body with a sufficient energy supply when the body has used up its source of carbohydrates and other foods. This is often why people on a low-calorie diet often see almost immediate weight loss. However, if you reduce your caloric intake too much, this can have adverse effects. Starving your body of amino acids will prevent the body from building protein molecules, or building muscle.
Additionally, the body also requires various types of proteins to help repair DNA, cells, body tissue, and muscle tissue, especially after a workout. Amino acids and protein molecules are also important for other areas of the body, such as promoting hair, nail, and skin health. You can get some amino acids from food. These amino acids are known as “essential” amino acids. Consuming high-protein foods can also help increase the body’s supply of amino acids, which can help build muscle. The foods that provide the body with the best supply of protein include the following:
- Red meat or beef
- Whey protein
- Milk and cheese
- Some legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Some vegetables
- Whole grains or oats
Lipids (Fat) and Metabolism
Most people who are struggling to lose weight see or hear the word “fat” and instantly freak out and avoid it like the plague. However, the body does need a healthy supply of fats in order to provide the body with energy.
The key word is HEALTHY. By this we don’t mean fast food, ice cream, or pizza. In fact, lipids provide the body with twice as much energy as carbohydrates. Additionally, lipids also help the following:
- Form cellular structure
- Protect vital organs
- Absorb fat soluble vitamins
- Create an energy storage
Now, there are two different types of fats: saturated fat and unsaturated fatty acids. Can you guess which type of fat is the “bad” fat?
Saturated fat is often linked to cholesterol, which is the bad fat. Saturated fat is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Saturated fat is also directly linked to weight gain.
On the other hand, unsaturated fatty acids are the “healthy” fats, which are mostly found in fish, some nuts, seeds and even coconut oil. Essential fatty acids include unsaturated fatty acids like linoleic, linolinic, and arachidonic acids.
In fact, many individuals swap out cooking oil, which is a saturated fat with coconut oil. Coconut oil contains many medium-chain fats, which can help increase metabolism. Studies have actually shown that medium-chain fats increase metabolism rates by up to 12 percent.
Vitamins and Minerals and Metabolism
Although vitamins and minerals that come from various foods do not directly provide the body with energy, they are still important for improving the metabolic rate and metabolic functions.
In fact, without consuming a sufficient supply of vitamins and minerals on a regular basis, this could lead to a deficiency, which can cause a long list of health issues.Here are some of the important minerals that should make an appearance in your daily diet:
- chloride ions
Additionally, vitamins are essential to the body mainly because the body cannot produce them on its own, just like some unsaturated fatty acids. Therefore, it’s important to “feed” the body some of these essential vitamins for a healthy metabolism:
- Vitamin A
- B2 (riboflavin)
- Niacin or nicotinic acid
- Pantothenic Acid
All in all, nutrition clearly plays an important role in how fast—or slow—the metabolism works to burn calories and use energy. So, if boosting your metabolism is one of your goals, then the first place to start is your own diet.
Starting a low-calorie diet is a good idea, but it’s important to eat an equal supply of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals every day will make a huge difference in the efficiency of your metabolism. In fact, adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to foods is also said to help for boosting your metabolism.So, what other factors play a role in your metabolic rate? What else can you do to increase your metabolism and energy expenditure?Don’t worry—we aren’t done yet.Continue reading for some additional metabolism boosting tips.
How to Increase Metabolism
1. Increase Your Protein Intake – As we mentioned above, eating the right foods can speed up your metabolism. Although getting an equal supply of carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals are all important, increasing your protein intake every day will certainly boost your metabolic rate and even your resting metabolic rate.Eating food naturally increases your metabolism for several hours. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). When you feed your body a supply of calories, this signals the body to begin digesting and processing your food. This process in and of itself burns calories, which increases your metabolic rate. Protein sources boost TEF levels more than other foods. For example, protein increases TEF by up to 30 percent, compared to only 10 percent for carbs and 3 percent for fats.Not only does protein boost TEF the most, some sources of protein take longer for the body to digest, leaving you feeling full and satisfied longer. This can prevent overeating or snacking later in the day or evening.
In fact, studies have shown that people consume approximately 400 fewer calories per day when protein makes up at least 30 percent of their diets.When you eat healthy supplies of protein and cut out snacking, you will likely notice a drop in the scale and more room in your jeans almost immediately.
2. Stay Hydrated – Many people don’t realize that many beverages they consume, such as soda, juice or other sugary drinks are actually causing them to gain weight and preventing them from losing weight.
Therefore, simply replacing those sugary drinks with cold water will not only keep the body properly hydrated, but you will automatically reduce your caloric intake each day, which can help accelerate weight loss.Furthermore, studies have also shown that drinking cold water can help speed up your metabolism. Drinking at least two (8-ounce) glass of water each day increases BMR (resting metabolic rate or basal metabolism) up to 30 percent for approximately 60 minutes.
Cold water works best because the body uses its energy supply to help warm up the water to body temperature.Additionally, water can also help you feel full longer, which can prevent you from eating extra calories that you really don’t need. It also provides the body with other benefits, such as clearer skin.
3. Exercise – You probably already knew that exercise would be on the list. In fact, any type of exercise, particularly high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts is the best way to burn fat and boost your metabolic rate significantly, even hours after you have finished your workout. Although any type of aerobic, anaerobic or cardio workout is great for burning fat and losing weight, studies have shown that engaging in HIIT workouts are more effective at speeding up metabolism than other types of exercise.One study showed that 12 weeks of continuous high-intensity interval training HIIT workouts and regular physical activity reduced body fat by up to 17 percent.
Furthermore, lifting weights is also great for increasing your metabolism. This is because building muscle can help boost your metabolic rate, which means you will burn more calories each day, even while the body is at rest.Studies have shown that individuals who participated in regular resistance, strength training, and weight training increased muscle mass, metabolism, and overall strength.So, not only will weight training help you bulk up, it will also increase your metabolism and help you retain muscle mass, which also results in a higher and faster metabolism.
4. Take a Stand—Literally – We all know that too much sitting is bad for human health. In fact, some experts believe that too much sitting is as bad—if not worse—than smoking. Sitting for long periods of time doesn’t burn many calories, which can inevitably lead to weight gain. If you have a desk job or you spend long periods of time sitting in a car, then it can be difficult to stand up. However, studies have shown that standing up at work can burn extra calories (even up to 175 calories per day!) This is why many companies have invested in standing desks for their employees.If a standing desk isn’t an option, then try to make an effort to stand up frequently, take breaks, go for walks or spend your lunch break at a local gym (if your schedule and job allows, of course).
Making an effort to stand up more during the day can help boost your metabolism, lose weight and burn fat, and simply promote general health. So, take a stand—literally—and make an effort to be as active as possible during the day.
5. Go Green—With Green Tea – Some experts and people believe that drinking green tea to help burn fat is a myth. However, other studies have shown that drinking green tea on a regular basis can increase the metabolism by up to 5 percent.So, what is it about green tea that is so fabulous and helps you lose weight?
Green tea help convert some fat stored in the body into free fatty acids, which help increase fat burn. Furthermore, green tea has virtually 0 calories, which is great for reducing caloric intake and weight loss.With that being said, some people who have tried green tea did not see an effect on their metabolism at all. This would explain why some experts do not believe that green tea has any impact on metabolism, and why others believe it does. All in all, it would appear that green tea affects some people and not others.All in all, try drinking green tea on a regular basis to see if it helps you. Even if it doesn’t, green tea contains high levels of antioxidants, making it one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.6. Get a Good Night’s Sleep – If you are trying to lose weight, and dieting alone doesn’t seem to help, pay closer attention to your sleep habits.
If you are going to bed too late, or having trouble falling or staying asleep, then your lack of sleep may be linked to weight gain or your inability to lose weight.In fact, studies have shown that a lack of sleep is linked to obesity. Furthermore, one of the biggest negative effects on the metabolism is sleep deprivation.
A lack of sleep can also lead to increased blood sugar levels, which is linked to the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Interestingly, a lack of sleep has also shown to increase hunger, which is often why many people who are sleep deprived often feel hungrier and struggle to lose weight. All in all, you can easily burn fat, lose weight, and naturally speed up your metabolism by making it a point to get a good night’s sleep.
7. Drink Coffee – Much like green tea, some experts believe there is a direct link to caffeine intake and losing weight and boosting your metabolism. On the other hand, others believe that caffeine intake can have adverse effects, causing weight gain in some individuals. Studies have shown results favoring both beliefs. Studies have shown that an increase in caffeine can help increase metabolism by up to 11 percent. However, this study may be linked to lean individuals more so than obese individuals.
Other studies have shown caffeine intake increased fat burning by only 10 percent in obese individuals whereas lean individuals increased fat burning up to 29 percent.Again, much like green tea, you might have to try drinking coffee yourself to see if it works for you. However, yes, consuming too much caffeine can also cause other health issues, one of which is sleep deprivation. So, be sure to limit coffee to only one or two cups per day.
Conclusion: How to Speed Up Your Metabolism
So, there you have it. Boosting your metabolism is entirely possible. Some individuals may need to commit to a lifestyle change, such as one that involves being more active and adjusting their diets, such a low-carb or low calorie diet.
Others may need to minor changes, such as giving up soda or getting a good night’s sleep every day.All in all, the next time you look at a friend or someone you know eat large quantities of junk food with envy, remember that there are things that you can do to boost your metabolism.
Although it is never a good idea to indulge in junk food all the time, simply making some lifestyle changes or changes in your daily routine can have a huge impact on your metabolism. Be patient—you won’t see a boost in metabolism overnight or even in a few days. However, we are willing to bet that you will begin to notice a difference in how you feel and your energy levels. This is the first start to a faster metabolism.
The next step? Losing weight, keeping it off, and saying goodbye to body fat for good!